Local Sports: Malik Smith is ‘the real deal’

RDC Kings basketball head coach Clayton Pottinger liked what he saw while watching video on Malik Smith.

But it wasn’t the basketball highlight video that convinced him that the Cerritos, Calif., native would be a good fit.

“I talked with his coach and watched his basketball video but what put me over the top was watching his football highlight video,” explained Pottinger. “I liked what I saw when it came to his vision and confidence. He was the real deal.”

Smith played football growing up but it wasn’t until his senior year in high school he decided to go out for the senior squad.

“I decided to commit to football for my final year and just have some fun,” he said.

The six-foot, 165-pound Smith stepped in as starting quarterback and threw for over 2,500 yards and 25 touchdowns. He also ran for over 600 yards and scored five times.

He was selected the team’s MVP and first team All-League.

That proved to be the end of his football career as he attended Cerritos College to play basketball.

“It was fun playing football, but I was more serious about basketball … I was good at football and enjoyed playing but didn’t like the contact as much,” said the 21-year-old with a laugh.

Smith did receive interest in continuing his football career.

“I was contacted by a couple of colleges but I didn’t have the passion to play football, it was just more for fun,” he added.

But Malik looks back at that season on the football field as an important part of his growth as a point guard.

“Football helped a lot. It helped me make quick decisions … to be able to read the plays before they happen and anticipate.”

Smith played two years with Cerritos College and was looking for a place to play when contacted by Pottinger.

“Clay sent me an email and we started talking on the phone and connected,” he said. “There were a lot of similarities and I thought it would be a good fit.”

It was also his first trip to Canada.

“That was another reason I wanted to come up .. see the snow. It was a switch from home,” he said smiling. “It’s been good, although I hear it can get pretty cold.”

Smith has always played point guard, a position Pottinger didn’t fill until late August.

“He’s been a great fit,” said the veteran RDC mentor. “His turnovers are low, he sees the court well and distributes the ball.

“He’s a very good on-ball defender and a great kid … there’s a lot to like about him.”

Malik is one of the premier point guards in the conference, sitting second in assists with 104 and 6.5 per game average, the best all-time for an RDC point guard.

Smith likes what he sees.

“I’ve been impressed with the league,” he said. “There’s a high skill level here and the guys can shoot. At home the guys are tall and jump high.”

Smith has played a key role in the Kings battle for a playoff berth.

The team sits at 8-8 and in a fourth place tie with Lethbridge, who they beat twice last weekend.

“Big wins for us,” Smith said. “It was a battle as both teams knew what was at stake.”

The Kings, who are finally healthy, have this weekend off before their final five games — two against Olds and Briercrest and one against Ambrose. They have only one home game — Feb. 9 against Olds — because of the 2019 Canada Winter Games.

To grab at playoff berth, they have to sweep all five and see what happens with Lethbridge (8-7), Ambrose (10-6) and Medicine Hat (10-6).

Malik, who is taking sociology, is in his third season of eligibility.

“I have two more years of eligibility remaining and plan on staying here to play and get my degree, which is my main focus,” he concluded.

Danny Rode is a retired Advocate reporter who can be reached at danrode@shaw.ca

Just Posted

Alberta energy war room must avoid online morass, preaching to choir: experts

CALGARY — Tzeporah Berman only learned of her cameo appearance at an… Continue reading

Two dead, including one who police believe was a child, in Alberta house fire

PLAMONDON, Alta. — Two people, including one who police believe was a… Continue reading

CSIS destroyed secret file on Pierre Trudeau, stunning historians

OTTAWA — Canada’s spy service destroyed a Cold War dossier on Pierre… Continue reading

Premier refuses to back down on plan to scrap 18,000 immigration applications

Quebec Premier Francois Legault is holding firm on his plan to scrap… Continue reading

Pro-pipelines rally draws crowd to City Hall

Canadian Taxpayers Federation says Canada missing out on billions in revenue

Federal cabinet decision on fate of Trans Mountain pipeline due Tuesday

OTTAWA — The Liberal government’s $4.5 billion gamble to buy the Trans… Continue reading

Skier, 22 dies after fall on Mount Haig near Castle Mountain Ski Resort

PINCHER CREEK, Alta. — RCMP from the Pincher Creek, Alta., detachment are… Continue reading

4 years in, Trump fondly recalls Trump Tower campaign launch

NEW YORK — It was the escalator ride that would change history.… Continue reading

Massive protests draw apology from Hong Kong leadership

Hong Kong citizens marched for hours Sunday in a massive protest that… Continue reading

Butterfly garden keeper manages to film large tarantula shedding exoskeleton

VICTORIA — A 20-centimetre tarantula capable of killing a bird has been… Continue reading

Telegraph-Journal wins 2018 Michener Award recognizing public-service journalism

OTTAWA — The Telegraph-Journal in New Brunswick has been named the winner… Continue reading

Victorious Raptors cancel their return to Toronto after becoming NBA champs

TORONTO — Some Raptors players returned to Toronto on Saturday night for… Continue reading

How a Montreal working-class neighbourhood’s activists changed Quebec and Canada

MONTREAL — The Pointe-St-Charles neighbourhood is isolated from the rest of Montreal… Continue reading

Most Read